CLEWISTON — City commissioners joined unanimously Monday, June 3, in deciding they’d much rather not continue to look for a new city manager, so they voted to invite one pre-finalist candidate whom all liked to work out a deal and give him the job.
Mayor Mali Gardner reported that the city’s contracted search firm, Colin Baenziger & Associates, had emailed commissioners before their meeting with three potential paths forward. The commission decided at its last meeting, May 20, that the city should continue to look when three of their four desired finalist candidates failed to impress as the right person for the job. One pulled out of consideration after having been invited to come to a meet-and-greet Thursday, May 16, and special commission meeting for public interviews the following day.
“We do have one of the other candidates who was in the area, and he (Mr. Baenziger) arranged it so that he could meet with each commissioner one on one. And then Mr. Baenziger has given us some options here, that we do have other applicants from another search that are interested in applying; we have received outside inquiries; and we have others not selected in the first round who want to still be considered,” the mayor said. Or, she added, if they liked one particular candidate, they could make a motion to negotiate with that person.
“I know that Commissioner (Julio) Rodriguez is ready to talk.”
‘He checked all the boxes for me’
Commissioner Rodriguez said he did, indeed, have a recommendation. He said Mr. Baenziger had sent them information on a search the City of Naples conducted. “One of the guys who was there, he called him a pro, interviewed in Naples and didn’t get hired. He took a permanent job in another city. Of the 68 applicants I think we had, … this Randy Martin kind of slipped through the cracks.”
Mr. Rodriguez explained that Mr. Martin was one of the eight people the Clewiston commissioners had lined up as their semifinalists, but he was not selected to be invited despite having been named on several commissioners’ ballots as a desired interviewee.
“We met with Randy Martin,” he said. “He toured the city with (Utilities Director) Danny (Williams), met some of the staff. He came to Clewiston on his own dime, on his vacation. I’d like to … give you some information on Randy Martin, if I may.”
The rest assented, and Mr. Rodriguez said Mr. Martin has over 30 years of management experience altogether, having worked for decades in the North Carolina/Virginia area. “He worked for the City of Kings in North Carolina from 1984 to ’95 … previously he was a planner. Then he was city manager in Morehead City from 1995 to 2012,” Mr. Rodriguez noted, after he had worked at another North Carolina city for the previous 11 years. “So there’s a pattern; this person has been employed six, eight, nine years every time he’s held a position,” the commissioner added. His last job was in Franklin, Va., until last August, after another six-year stint. He then retired.
“He checked all the boxes for me. He’s done a lot in his time … he has a good vision for his first 100 days. I really like Randy Martin, everything about him, and with his experience and education from NCU — one of the top in his class — I think he would make an excellent manager for our city,” Mr. Rodriguez finished.
‘One of the most qualified’
Vice Mayor Michael Atkinson said, “I was very happy when I met with him. He was one that I picked both times. I think he has everything it takes and would be one of the most qualified we ever had. I would support him.”
Commissioner Melanie McGahee said, “I’m agreeable. I didn’t meet with him, but I was very impressed with his credentials, too.”
Commissioner Rodriguez said in talking with Mr. Martin, he told him that he could start in 30 days and was asking for about $180,000 with yearly evaluations.
City Attorney Gary Brandenburg said, “You can just direct me to negotiate a contract with him…”
Mr. Rodriguez offered to host a meet-and-greet for the commissioners and citizens to introduce Mr. Martin and said, “I’m excited because I know this is very important for our city, and I think we got the right guy.”
Mayor Gardner said she believed he was prepared to move to Clewiston, was even looking for housing, and wants “to be a part of our community, but not only that, to address the issues that have not been addressed.”
Commissioner Rodriguez happily made the motion to offer the position to Mr. Martin, Vice Mayor Atkinson seconded, and approval was unanimous.